Why startups need a pitch deck template with the 10/20/30 rule

Pitch Deck Template Guy Kawasaki

Why startups need a pitch deck template with the 10/20/30 rule

Every entrepreneur faces the challenge of creating the right Pitch Deck for their startup. The startup could be at a stage where there is an idea but no product, or there is already a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) but the startup needs to raise money to help it identify the product-market fit. Here, we will look at the business with a great idea but no MVP yet. The startup that needs to distinguish its team, product founder fit, opportunity, and target market so it can get seed funding from potential investors and take it to the next level.

Can this even happen in reality?

Yes. Over 50 years ago, semiconductor pioneers Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore left Fairchild Semiconductor to found something new based on a business idea they had. This was not the archetypal Silicon Valley startup, which had its roots in a youthful founder’s garage. Noyce was the co-inventor of the silicon integrated circuit when he was the General Manager of Fairchild Semiconductor. Moore, Fairchild Semiconductor’s head of Research and Development. There was no Minimum Viable Product, but the founders were experienced technologists with established reputations. An early American financier, Arthur Rock, the first venture capitalist, took a risk on them and invested 2.5 million dollars in funding based on the product-founder fit.

Thus, Intel was born.

If you have a startup with a great business idea and a distinguishable team trying to take your product or solution to the next stage of entrepreneurship, there is hope. Suppose you can prove a good product founder fit because your team has domain knowledge, unique experiences, or partners with the right people. In such a situation, raising money from a potential investor is not impossible. All you need to do is keep pitching the idea and your team.

So, where do you begin?

The Art of the Start - The Art of Pitching

If you are a startup entrepreneur who has heard a lot about the 10/20/30 rule in the art of pitching but hasn’t yet read Guy Kawasaki’s book, here’s a summary which might help you pitch your next big business idea:

1. Catapult the start.

Explain yourself in the first minute. You are not telling a bedtime story. You need to capture the excitement and energy powering your startup. Impress your audience from the start with an overview of your business.

2. Answer the little man

Imagine someone is sitting on your shoulder, always whispering, “So what?” This will help you drive your pitch towards more impactful and hopefully awe-inspiring statements.

3. Prepare. Know your audience - organization background, executives, current efforts

Do your homework. Before your pitch meeting, learn what you can about your audience from their bios, social media accounts, and online research.

Be prepared for contingencies. Bring your own projectors, and have at least two fully charged laptops able to run your presentations. Don’t forget the adapters or power cables.

Save a copy of your pitch deck presentation on a USB drive. Print hard copies in case there is a power failure, and nothing else works. You don’t want to miss your window of opportunity.

Turn up early, so you have time to set up.

4. Observe the 10/20/30 rule

Guy Kawasaki is the evangelist for the 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint. Simply put, each pitch should have ten slides, take no longer than 20 minutes, and have a font size no less than 30 points. The ten slide rule forces the entrepreneur to concentrate on the essentials and take no longer than two minutes to present per slide. When the presentation is kept to 20 minutes, there is plenty of time left for Q&A. Sometimes the need might arise to add a few more slides, but the total should never exceed fifteen. Remember, the more slides, the less compelling your presentation.

However, many startup entrepreneurs often find themselves staring at a blank slide, with no idea how to create a pitch deck even though there are many startup pitch deck templates or presentation templates online, either in the form of a free PowerPoint template or google slides. Not everyone can afford a professionally designed pitch deck presentation.


So, here’s a free pitch deck template based on Guy Kawasaki’s rules. 

It will help you get started as you work to create a winning pitch deck for your startup.

The template includes ten slides covering the:

  • Big Problem. How will your big idea solve this?
  • Value proposition. How your product or service is already displaying value?
  • Business model. Discuss your customer base. How do you intend to leverage social networks? Show how market validation fits in.
  • Go-to-Market plan
  • Competitive analysis and market opportunity. Breakdown the basic market segmentation, size, growth, and dynamics. Provide your pitch audience with a sense of the size of the opportunity. What are the growth metrics? How will you differentiate yourself, your product or service offering from the other competitors in the market?
  • Management team. What distinguishes your team? Why is your team uniquely qualified to win the market?
  • Financial projections and key metrics. How will you generate revenue? What are the channels or streams? How profitable is your new venture? What is your cost structure? What is the impact of giving out your product or service for free during promotions or campaigns?
  • Current status, accomplishments to date, timeline, and use of raised money. This is your traction slide. Share details of your startup’s positive momentum and traction. Close with a bias toward action.

Although the thirty-point font is intended to force you to pitch, not recite your presentation, you might also find yourself facing a challenge with trying to fit in sufficient material with a font size of not less than 30. Admittedly, it isn’t easy to do that in any pitch deck and still communicate all the information needed to potential investors and partners. Guy Kawasaki advocates using a font not smaller than 30 and deleting anything that is less than 14 points. I’ve used 20 points in the template.

There are a couple of considerations when thinking about this:

  • If you are projecting the pitch deck onto a screen or wall, 30 might be too large, depending on the room’s size or the audience’s distance from the screen.
  • If the potential investors are reviewing your pitch deck virtually via, e.g., a Zoom, Google Meets, or Microsoft Teams, a range between 20 to 30 would work fine. Anything smaller might require too much squinting from the investors and distract them from focusing on your pitch.

Tips: Knowing how your presentation will take place might help you structure the font size accordingly.

5. Set the stage

It is essential to know:

  • The amount of time you have
  • The three critical pieces of information your audience wants to know.

Find out the above at the start of the meeting, and then let them know you will answer any questions your audience might have at the end of your presentation.

6. Let one person do the talking.

Keep the spotlight on one person. The entire team can be there for the pitch, but let one person do the talking.

7. Catalyze fantasy

In some situations, you can take the bolder approach, forget market research, and catalyze fantasy. This can only happen when your startup provides a product or service that is so obviously needed, and user engagement is almost guaranteed; the audience can automatically do the math in their heads.

8. Get to one thousand feet and stay there.

Your business pitch deck should not be too strategic, not should it be overly detailed (at ground zero). Instead, it should be tactical enough to demonstrate you know the details of your business plan without losing sight of the vision.

9. Shut up, take note, summarize, regurgitate and follow up

Pay attention. You are sending a message to your audience when you do the above. Your actions tell them that they are saying worthwhile things, and you are willing and anxious to learn.

Summarize what you heard and playback to the audience, especially if there were additional information requirements. Follow up soon after the meeting on all the promises made during the pitch on providing further information.

10. Rewrite from scratch

Reduce, reuse, recycle – not something to do with pitches.  After using your pitch a few times, start clean.  Rewrite your pitch deck based on all the earlier learnings from your pitches to potential investors.  

Some design tips to have a professional presentation

Keep these useful tips on presentation design in mind when building your investor pitch deck:

  1. Banner Statements – Instead of having just a title that states “Problem / Opportunity”, try using a impactful statement that states “There are 1 million users without xxx”
  2. Dark background – It is visually more appealing
  3. Bright color – use bright colors . Decide on your color palette.
  4. Logo – Embed your logo within the slide master.
  5. Common Font – The Art of the Start advocates using the “Sans Serif” fonts, but this isn’t available in google slides. I would recommend Times New Roman or Arial.
  6. Animation – Keep it to a minimum, or not at all! Guy Kawasaki suggests animating the presenter’s body, not the slides.
  7. Bullet points – Use bullets to keep your points concise, and only use one level of bullets
  8. Diagrams and graphs – are very helpful in keeping your visuals interesting.
  9. Printable slides – don’t overlap any images or diagrams on the slides.
  10. Slide layouts – keep it consistent. Graphs on the left or top. Text on the right or bottom.
Have unique slides.

Pitch constantly!

Practice makes perfect. You are most effective when you are familiar with pitching and the contents of your pitch deck.

With the art of pitching, it is crucial to remember – this is NOT an elevator pitch. Your objective is to generate enough interest in your product or solution to get you to the next meeting. It is not intended to provide a deep dive into your startup and overwhelm your audience with details. Always aim to get to the next meeting and take your pitch one step further.

business meeting, meeting, business

Coming soon!

Look out for our case studies as we walk through the original pitch deck examples from enterprises such as Sequoia Capital, Airbnb, Uber, Facebook. This will give the startup entrepreneurs some context when they design their pitch deck PowerPoint templates. It doesn’t matter if you’re using PowerPoint pitch decks or Google Slides to present. Get your pitch content right, learn how to put together a pitch deck that investors are looking for, and get your first draft started.